1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Heidi Holland, with an Ivy League education and a Fulbright in England under her belt, is a lecturer in art history, an expert on female artists virtually unknown in their lifetimes, though their work is as good as that of the male painters who dominated their ages. Using the art history "hook" into the question of women and their roles--as they see their roles, as men see women's roles, and as women search for happiness within these roles--Wendy Wasserstein has written a thoughtful and very funny drama about the Baby Boom generation and the price its women have paid as they have searched for fulfillment.
Exploring Heidi Holland's life from the late 1960s to the 1990s, Wasserstein takes us from Heidi's high school and college days, as she grows in her thinking and view of her role in life, to her experiences with women's lib focus groups, the Eugene McCarthy campaign, the rise of AIDS, the gay movement, and ultimately Heidi's realization of what is important to her, not just professionally and philosophically, but personally and emotionally.
Wasserstein uses wit and a keen ear for dialogue to create quick, often humorous interchanges which advance the action and the feminist message without polemics. Heidi is, on the surface, a success by all external measurements, but she feels that she is missing something from her life. Professional success is not enough for her, a revelation that made this play somewhat controversial within the women's movement when it was first produced in 1988. Some feminists apparently believed Heidi's desire for emotional fulfillment through love to be a sellout to a male dominated culture.
Wasserstein emphasizes that women should be able to pursue both professional success and a personal life, however, and the rounded character of Heidi remains a nice contrast to the more strident and sometimes hostile female characters with whom she interacts on stage. Throughout the action, the play's high humor and absurdity are nicely balanced with scenes of sentiment and sorrowful revelation, and Wasserstein maintains her light touch without trivializing the issues. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989, the play offers insights into significant social issues, gracefully presented so that they do not alienate the audience. Mary Whipple
on 12 January 2012
This play has had great reviews from readers in America. Maybe it's because I'm a Brit, and missed some of the cultural echoes, but I found this very flat indeed. None of the characters appealed to me, and I didn't notice the humour others have mentioned. Overall, I won't be rushing out to see this performed, and I doubt I will read it again.